No corporate website is perfect, but digitally savvy prospects and customers increasingly expect companies to keep their digital assets at a modest baseline of quality.
This is by no means intended as a comprehensive overview of all the things your company needs to do to keep its web presence on the up and up. Whole books (and e-books, as per custom) have been written on this topic, and you’d do well to read them if you’re serious about advanced DIY web design and development.
What it is intended as is a no-nonsense checklist of the top components your company website needs to shine. If your site doesn’t have every single one of these components right now, don’t sweat it too much; your firm will still be there in the morning. Add them as you have time, prioritizing those you deem most important to your outreach and prospecting efforts.
- A Customer Contact Form
Crawl before you walk.
A customer contact form is among the most basic company website features imaginable, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked in the rush to get a minimum viable site up and running.
Create a “contact” tab on your main nav bar. Direct it to a crisp, simple page given over entirely to a standard-issue contact form. (Every CMS has at least one template.) Bonus points for adding subordinate contact forms along the footer or right sidebar of each subpage. Alternatively, sprinkle “get in touch”-style CTAs throughout subpage copy.
- An Expansive Self-Help Portal
The vast majority of customer queries won’t require direct human intervention to solve. Your resources are limited; there’s no need to hire an army of customer contact professionals or farm call center duties out to a shady third party before you’re cash flow positive.
This isn’t to say your company has no need for a first-rate help portal right out of the gate. Be ready to debut an expansive, searchable knowledge base on your site’s go-live date. Organize by topic, product, pricing plan — whatever makes sense in the context of your business model. Include a FAQ to go along with it. And keep building it as your business grows — your hundredth customer is likely to encounter different (and possibly more complex) problems than your tenth.
- Actual Contact Details
Your contact form is a great start, but it’s not the last word. Once you have sufficient assets (e.g., a robust spam filter and a thick-skinned virtual assistant) in place to handle the likely flood of queries you’ll receive, add actual contact details to your contact page.
At minimum, this means a real-life email address that either forwards to a key employee’s company address or dumps into an inbox that you’ve tasked someone on the team with checking regularly. If you have the bandwidth, go the extra mile and include a phone number that rolls over to a key employee’s cell or (if you have a physical office) rings your central landline.
- Key Employee Bios
Your prospects want to know who you are. Depending on the size of your team, you’ll want to share this information on your corporate About page or a separate Team page. Go all in with high-res headshots (or action shots — everyone loves a good funny-face leaping pic) and brand-appropriate bios. If your vibe is on the irreverent side, feel free to experiment with TMI. If you’re buttoned-up, stick to just-the-facts mode.
Either way, consider including direct contact details — at least for the sorts of public-facing roles, like communications directors and sales leads, that should expect cold calls.
- Social Sharing Buttons
You’d be crazy to rely exclusively on your company website to generate quality leads. Relieve some of the burden with social sharing buttons that let your prospects and customers share the joy they’ve found. At minimum, include plugins for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. For marketing plans that lean heavily on visual media like Pinterest and Instagram, throw those in the mix too. And be sure to add links to your own social properties in your website’s footer: again, at least Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- Clean Top Nav Bar
Another easy-peasy website feature that’s far too often overlooked: a clean top nav bar that sets the tone for the entire site. Don’t leave your visitors guessing — make sure every single page and subpage has the same top nav bar, save for highly specialized subpages to which you’re directing highly specific, extremely intentional traffic streams.
- Parallax Scrolling on the Home or About Page
Web design fads come and go. One trend that’s been more durable than most is parallax scrolling — an illusory effect that overlays a motile foreground over a stationary or slowly moving background.
Parallax scrolling isn’t a total gimmick. It’s actually a great way to tell a linear story on your homepage (assuming a simpler site) or About page. Use it judiciously, and don’t be afraid to ask a professional developer or designer for help if you’re not sure how to achieve the desired effect.
- Consistent Branding
It’s not tiresome. It’s good business. Consistent branding is a crucial marker of competency and quality for prospects and decision-stage leads. If you have it “together enough” to maintain consistent logos, color schemes, and imagery across your website’s subpages, social media properties, and external sites (such as business directories), you should have it “together enough” to deliver a consistent experience for your customers.
- A Content Portal That Goes Beyond the Blog
Your website’s content portal needs to be bold and authoritative: a bona fide resource for prospects with questions that you’re better positioned than anyone to answer. That means in-depth explainer posts, multimedia presentations, case studies, white papers — you name it.
Practice Makes Perfect
As noted up top, these aren’t the only 11 components from which a well-rounded company website could plausibly benefit. Nor should you cease your efforts to improve your website as soon as you’ve brought them to fruition.
Like competitive sports or public speaking, building and maintaining a first-rate company website requires ongoing effort. It’s a “practice makes perfect” situation: the more you work at it, the better you’ll do, and the more likely your audience (prospective customers) will be to notice your work.
Here’s to making your website a little better each week.